Views & Reviews Past Caring

Two hundred and thirty years before Beveridge

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a571 (Published 30 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a571
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}ntlworld.com

    In the sloth-like progress that characterises medical history, few visionaries have lived to see their dreams reach fruition. Reformer Beatrice Webb died a tragic five years before the creation of the National Health Service she outlined in 1909. But that was nothing to John Bellers, the Quaker philanthropist who advocated a state funded health service more than two centuries before Britain’s Labour government took the hint.

    A wealthy London cloth merchant, Bellers (1654-1725) never shrank from grand schemes that helped those worse off. In 1695 he proposed a “Colledge of Industry” to provide training and employment for the poor in a self sufficient community that would later inspire …

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